Category 4 Earl Approaches the East Coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:49 AM GMT on September 02, 2010

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Hi, Dr. Rob Carver with your evening blog update. It's a busy night in the tropics with category 4 Hurricane Earl and Tropical Storms Fiona and Gaston in the Atlantic. We'll focus on Earl tonight.

Earl
As of 11PM EDT, Earl is a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph and faster gusts. From the advisory, Earl is located at 27.8 N, 73.8 W, 520 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC. On average, Earl is currently moving north-northwest at 18 mph. Data from hurricane hunter flights show that Earl's pressure has fallen, the minimum central pressure is now 932 mb. Looking at Figure 1, an estimate of rainfall rates (think radar in space), we see a complete eyewall, with an especiallly vigorous thunderstorm cluster in the northwest quadrant. These


Fig. 1 Estimated rainfall-rate of Earl taken at 9PM EDT 1 September 2010. Image courtesy of the Naval Research Lab

Earl is still a large storm. Hurricane force winds extend 90 miles from the storm center and tropical storm force winds can be found 230 miles away. 12 foot seas extend at least 210 nmi from the center in all directions and may reach out to 450 nmi in the northeast quadrant of the storm. The most recent estimate (930PM EDT) of Earl's integrated kinetic energy is 91 TJ, with a wind impact of 3.1 out of 6 and a storm surge impact of 4.7 out of 6. Like Dr. Masters said earlier today, if the right front quadrant of Earl stays out to sea, the storm surge may not be as significant as this rating indicates.

Track Forecast
NHC has not really altered their track forecast for this update. Thanks to the subtropical high, Earl will continue turning toward the north as it moves around the subtropical high. When the trough in the jet stream comes out on Thursday, Earl will accelerate quickly to the northeast. The timing of the trough's arrival will determine Earl's impact on the East Coast. If the trough comes out quickly, Earl will stay at sea. If the trough is late in arriving, it could move Earl across the East Coast.

That said, the current forecast still holds that Earl's center will stay out to sea, but with Earl's center passing near the Outer Banks late Thursday night, then passing the Delmarva peninsula Friday morning before flying past Cape Cod Friday night and crossing over Canada's Nova Scotia Saturday. There is also a small possibility (less than 10%) that Earl could pass directly over the Outer Banks and/or the Delmarva peninsula. However, with a storm of Earl's size, the center does not have to pass overhead to cause damage. Please keep this in mind when considering your hurricane preparations.

Winds Forecast
Earl's size and track will produce tropical-storm force winds somewhere along the East Coast this weekend, and there is a 28% chance of hurricane-force winds along the Outer Banks. NHC puts out a very useful wind probability forecast. The highlights are that Cape Hatteras, NC has a 28% chance of hurricane-force winds and a 91% chance of tropical-storm (TS) force winds. A wide swath of 30+% probabilities covers the East Coast from Virginia to New England. Cities with a greater than 40% chance of TS winds include Norfolk, Ocean City, Providence, Boston, and Nantucket. Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada has a 62% chance of TS force winds.

Earl is expected to maintain its current intensity until it meets the trough and starts moving northeastwards. The shear from the trough will start weakening it. It will likely go by Cape Cod as a fast-moving category 2 hurricane. When it goes over Nova Scotia, it will likely still be a tropical storm.
Current Watches and Warnings

Hurricane warnings are valid for the coast from Bogue Inlet, NC to the NC/VA border. Hurricane watches in effect from the NC/VA border to Cape Henlopen, DE and from Woods Hole, MA to Sagamore Beach, MA. Tropical storm warnings and watches cover much of the coast in between the NC/VA border and Woods Hole, MA. For the latest information on watches and warnings for Earl, visit our Tropical Alerts page.

Impacts
The primary threats from Earl are going to be storm surge, surf, and wind. Since Earl is forecast to gain speed after meeting the trough, flooding from rain should not be a large problem. From a broad perspective, storm surges are expected to be 3-5 feet above the tidal level, with large breaking waves at the coast. Beach erosion along the Delmarva peninsula and Outer Banks (8-10 foot breaking waves) could be significant. For more localized info, check out NWS's Hurricane Local Statements or our severe weather page.

What to do
People living in areas covered by the watches and warnings should be working through their hurricane preparation plans now. You have less than 24 hours to complete your preparations if you are in the Outer Banks and less than 48 hours in New England. Be sure to listen to local media for statements from emergency management agencies and the local NWS.

Fiona
All watches and warnings for Fiona were discontinued by the 5:00 PM EDT forecast. Fiona is forecast to curve northward without affecting land and dissipate in 4 days.

Gaston
Once Earl moves past Nova Scotia, this is the storm to watch in the tropical Atlantic. While it is far out at sea (more than 6 days to affect land), some computer models suggest Gaston could affect the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Statistical intensity forecast models (LGEM and SHIPS) rapidly intensify Gaston, but the dynamical models (HWRF, GFDL) do not. This storm will be worth watching over the next week or so.

Aerial Reconnaissance
The skies around Earl are going to be very busy Thursday according to the Tropical Cyclone Plan of the Day. There will be 3 flights from the Hurricane Hunters. NCAR and NOAA's Gulfstream's will be flying around Earl. HRD's WP-3D's will be flying research missions every 12 hours. NASA is sending several aircchraft as part of their Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) mission. Their Global Hawk UAV will be flying for at least 24 hours. NASA's DC-8 has a six-hour mission scheduled. Finally, a WB-57 (one of the planes I supported during 2001's CRYSTAL-FACE) will also be flying high above Earl with microwave remote sensing gear. NASA has a nice list of the airborne instruments.


Fig. 2 Photo of Earl's eyewall taken from NASA's DC-8 Image Credit: NASA/Jane Peterson. (Full size image)

Next update
Dr. Jeff Masters will have an update Thursday morning. Dr. Masters, myself, Shaun Tanner, and myself will be participating in a special Hurricane Haven Thursday afternoon to discuss Earl's imminent approach. Dr. Masters will have the finalized details in his blog update.

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I just woke up to some large waves starting to pound the beach in Sandbridge, VA. That is right on the border of NC/VA south of Virginia Beach. Was wondering if you guys think its safe to stay here with the storm taking a more westward track. J
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Quoting xcool:
fatlady99 hey ?


hey xcool. having fun?
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Just so the HHunters are safe. The thought of losing one of them is unthinkable.
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fatlady99 hey ?
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look like they had too turn a round
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Quoting Papagolash:
I absolutely love teh amount of data we can get these days from storms. The fact that we can follow Hurricane Hunters in near real-time with updates is amazing. So many flights going into Earl tomorrow, I would love to see a report on the data they all bring in. I'm wondering how long it'll be till we are able to see some near real-time radar feeds from the HH while they're in the storm and the storm is out in sea out of range from land based radars.

Speaking of radar, Earl's first bands should be detected by radar in about six hours.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
will if the storm is so strong now may be it massing evere thing up for them the HH has still not reported in


well teh satellite hasn't udpated for an hour..

so I myself don't know how the storm looks currently, hopefully they're ok
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Referring to post #61.

But look at the Caribbean.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
Latest ECMWF shows more storms
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will if the storm is so strong now may be it massing evere thing up for them the HH has still not reported in
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Quoting btwntx08:

dr carver mention himself twice in here


I'm sure the poor guy is exhausted.
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Quoting bigwes6844:
look at the big tropical wave coming off africa man its getting active!!!!


I know it's crazy.
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Goodnight, y'all. We'll all be on through the night tomorrow night.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
I absolutely love teh amount of data we can get these days from storms. The fact that we can follow Hurricane Hunters in near real-time with updates is amazing. So many flights going into Earl tomorrow, I would love to see a report on the data they all bring in. I'm wondering how long it'll be till we are able to see some near real-time radar feeds from the HH while they're in the storm and the storm is out in sea out of range from land based radars.
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I've been looking at the latest TCHP chart, and I'm really starting to think that Earl has about reached its maximum intensity. Between now and when it reaches the gulf stream, there's just not the kind of explosive deep-water heat that it would need to make it to a cat 5. (IMO, of course...)

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Those outer bands are helping Earl almost create a ridge for himself
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look at the big tropical wave coming off africa man its getting active!!!!
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I'm out from lurking for today. Y'all have fun. Night
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Quoting Tazmanian:
am starting too wounder if the HH went down or some in they have not reported in in 24) (Minutes or so


God I hope not...
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Quoting xcool:




Polar Vortex shaping up.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
am starting too wounder if the HH went down or some in they have not reported in in 24) (Minutes or so
Typing vortex message?
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Quoting reedzone:


Link??


http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/tracking/at201007_model.html#a_topad

there you go, I guess it barely clips eastern long island, haven't reallly looked at the models, the last run had it over eastern long island
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am starting too wounder if the HH went down or some in they have not reported in in 24) (Minutes or so
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Quoting GaltsGulchCO:
75 v. 30

May even get to 75 before 29!
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Ummm ....narcissism?
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
Well I'm off to bed. At this rate, I'll wake up to Earl being like the size of Tip all of sudden or something completely off the wall like that.

For all of us out there. This just goes to show how amazingly small we are in this giant monster of a blue marble we call home. Wow.. just an amazing day weather wise. It's just going to get worse from here, unfortunately.
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National Hurricane Center
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
6:00 AM UTC September 2 2010
=================================

A broad area of low pressure located about 200 miles west southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico has changed little during the last several hours. However, upper level winds are forecast to become a little more conducive for development during the next couple of days as the system moves west northwestward at 5-10 MPH

Tropical Cyclone Formation Potential
=======================================
There is a HIGH chance of this disturbance to form into a significant tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours.
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Any guesses on a possible landfall point if it stays on the current heading? It still doesn't look good to me, to close for me.
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ok why is the HH not reporting in
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Thanks, Dr. Carver.
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Quoting leo305:


GFDL is the one that takes it over eastern long island, and the center is west of that track so far


Link??
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Quoting smuldy:
because a directional change going against model forecasts requires 6 hours of continuity, otherwise it is considered an anomaly, and it has only been moving nw for 3 hours it was moving more slight w of nnw the 3 preceding hours. If it is still moving nw at the 5am advisory, then it will be discussed as such because the 6 hour continuity would have been achieved.


ah i see.. but how come when it was moving NNW for only 3 hours or so they changed it to NNW immediately?
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Any images to the 0z Euro?
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Quoting katadman:
Quoting reedzone:
So far, Earl is following the NHC very nicely!


Actually, Reed, the NHC has been following Earl. Since the beginning


Meant to say NHC forecast points...
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Gulp...


GFDL is the one that takes it over eastern long island, and the center is west of that track so far
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Quoting leo305:
Why can't they put NW? It clearly hasn't moved NNW..

because a directional change going against model forecasts requires 6 hours of continuity, otherwise it is considered an anomaly, and it has only been moving nw for 3 hours it was moving more slight w of nnw the 3 preceding hours. If it is still moving nw at the 5am advisory, then it will be discussed as such because the 6 hour continuity would have been achieved.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
21:

Why do they do this? Report an un-flagged 926.5, but then don't use it anyway?


I honestly don't know. But at least they've been consistent. Throughout the life of Earl, they've always posted official pressures a few mb above the raw HH data we've seen on this blog. I'm no expert on official NHC procedures, so I'm not going to speculate.
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they had not reported in in the last 18ms or so i hop they did not go down or some in
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i said wish one of you kill the nhc site has a joke be come the site not updateing


I was with you Taz...they are frustratingly slow just at the wrong moments...
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 379
Quoting katadman:
Quoting reedzone:
So far, Earl is following the NHC very nicely!


Actually, Reed, the NHC has been following Earl. Since the beginning
well said
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Gulp...
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Quoting Alockwr21:
Sure hope that Earl is on time for his date with that trough in 4 hours


The trough is not expected for more than 24 hours or more from now. Check the WV loops CONUS and see the slowed movement with it stopped draping from West TN to NE OH.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 379
Quoting reedzone:
So far, Earl is following the NHC very nicely!


Actually, Reed, the NHC has been following Earl. Since the beginning
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1081
Why can't they put NW? It clearly hasn't moved NNW..

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.